I hope that all of you had a lovely, relaxing Thanksgiving day spent however and with whomever it pleased you to spend it. If the actual holiday involved hours in the car, pearl onions and/or grumpy relatives, I hope that today brings you better things.
Our Thanksgiving was not as I expected, for a number of reasons. First off, all of our guests got sick, which meant that we were down to 5 people, and had to run plates and bags to our under-the-weather absent friends before we could eat. Dinner was delicious (if I do say so myself) but I learned a couple of valuable things:
- The turkey has crisper skin if you don’t cook it upside down. [Note: I really, really, really do know how to cook; this is just a problematic area for me and bear in mind that I didn’t have to confess this]. I have spatial relationship problems with whole poultry, and usually have to consult Rob as to whether I have put the bird du jour in the pan breast-side up. Maybe he’s better at this because he grew up on a farm? He was unavailable when I started the process, the bird was cooking at my parents’ house 5 miles away, and when I took it out of the oven I was HORRIFIED at how dry the “breast” looked – the timer had just gone off, and I was within 15 minutes of my calculated timing, but it looked like the turkey in “National Lampoon Christmas Vacation” that is basically sawdust-filled skin. As it turned out, the breast was less than plump and juicy because it was the back. When flipped, the bird was perfect; the brining and massaging paid off, and it was the best turkey we had ever eaten. No crispy breast skin, though. I tried to convince the family that I had cooked the turkey upside down to prevent them from being tempted by the cardiac-threatening skin. They smiled sadly, as if to acknowledge my disability without making me feel bad.
- Some pies can be made a day ahead and reheated, and some don’t fare as well. My pumpkin pecan pie was lovely re-heated, but when my son said something about how the blueberry crumble-top pie “didn’t have a bottom crust” I discovered that, due to the juiciness of the filling, the bottom crust had essentially become one with the filling. I hear it was delicious, it just had no crust other than the rim around the top.
Still, for the first Thanksgiving dinner that I ever cooked entirely on my own, I was pretty darned pleased.
Now, on to menu planning. We’re eating lots of leftovers today (you can make an awesome panini in the Foreman Grill), and I will start next week with a frozen carcass, leftover turkey, cream (I forgot to whip it for the pies), lots of celery, carrots, and onions, some canned pumpkin puree and half a bag of fresh cranberries. In addition to using these things up, I am, as always, interested in seasonal, local foods, what’s on sale, no more than 2 red meat meals and at least 1 vegetarian meal. I am cooking this week entirely out of “Cook’s Country” Magazine, which is a splendid combination of family-friendly recipes and the careful vetting of America’s Test Kitchen. Here’s what we’re eating on Forest Street this week:
French Bread Pizza and Salad
This is exactly as it sounds; a simple, kid-friendly meal and one that the kid can actually help to create. The recipe doesn’t call for pepperoni, but I’ll put some on 3/4 of the pizza for the guys.
Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup and Homemade Rolls
This will use up the carcass and a lot of those little bits of turkey that aren’t really big enough for sandwiches, as well as some carrots, celery, onions and cream.
Crispy Pork Cutlets with Buttered Noodles and Baked Sweet Potatoes
Pork tenderloins are on sale, so I’ll make my own “cutlets.” Sweet potatoes are still on sale, too, and although this is kind of a starchy meal, the sweet potatoes are pretty darned healthy with a little Smart Balance on them and nothing else.
Pasta with Tomato, Bacon & Onion; Green Salad and Herbed Bread Sticks
This is basically another (slightly less caloric) riff on Pasta All’Amatriciana, which we adore.
Dijon Chicken Breasts, Green Beans and Quinoa
Green Beans on sale, Chicken breasts in the freezer and an unused box of Quinoa from some dinner I planned and never cooked.
My Dad’s Birthday Dinner
Stuffed Shells, Semolina Bread and Broccoli
Vegetarian and delicious. Homemade marinara, of course.